Its been exactly 2 years, 10 months and 23 days since I have made Hyderabad my home and I haven’t visited the Charminar even once! Visited in the sense that I have never gone there with the express intent of seeing it – I have passed by on numerous occasions but have never really seen it! That blemish was sorta eradicated yesterday when having nothing better to do on a lazy Sunday, we trooped off to the old city with the express intent of seeing the Charminar. As we made our way from Somajiguda towards Charminar, the changing landscape and buildings around us showed us plainly that we were moving from the newer city into the old city. Roads were a bit more crowded (though they are everywhere in Hyderabad nowadays!), houses and shops were cluttered closely, the architecture was old-ish and bordering on dilapidation…even the area names through which we traversed underwent a sea change – Raj Bhavan Road to Lakdi-Ka-Pul to Nampally to Afzalgunj to Patthergatti – it was like a trip back into the past! But that is what Hyderabad is – a quaint mix of the old and new alike!
We parked in front of the famed Madina building and made our way on foot through the lanes and bylanes that made up Patthergatti. From burqa shops to bag shops, footpath traders to Digjam showrooms, push-cart fruit vendors to Pulla Reddy sweets – we traversed’em all! A walk through the famous Laad Bazaar was a ticklish one…moreso because it was a predominantly ladies’ market and we had no business there! Still he multi-hued bangles and other bric-a-bracs being sold there captured one’s imagination as one walked by. At last we reached the hallowed four-minaret building called the Charminar (whose history can be viewed here) We circled it once, all the while marveling at its age-old beauty and grace. The clock on it was working fine and was showing the correct time. We did not climb into it however – leaving it for another day/another visit. Next up we proceeded into the Mecca Masjid – which was a terror-target just a few months ago. The monument bore no signs of the terror attack and everything looked as normal as it was. There were a few tourists inside and we also made our way in. Shoes had to be left at one side and having done that, we strolled across the corridor housing the tombs of the erstwhile Nizams et al. The main Mosque was closed to visitors but one could peep-in. I noticed a few heavy objects suspended from the ceilings and covered with cloth – which I’m guessing to be Chandeliers. There was a big Grandfather clock ticking away peacefully in one corner while a few more modern ones adorned the walls alongside. We walked across to the wide stone portico in front of the mosque, which was a li’l bit hot coz of the Sun and we had to hop over it quickly. There were a number of pigeons fluttering about – many of them a mute witness to the mayhem here a few months ago. Looking at the tranquility and serenity that the place had, it bothers me to think that some sick individuals attempted to cause harm and havoc!
We made our way out from the Mosque and loitered around a bit across the market and eventually settled at a perfumery shop. Charminar area is famous for its ittars (perfumes) and just to satiate an idle curiosity, I bought a few. The names of the perfumes varied from the mundane (Jasmine, Rose) to the more prosaic (Shadow, Kashish etc) and the fragrance was extravagant, to say the least. We also bought a few clothes and other miscellany items before hunger pangs started to strike! There were two equally famous Biriyani places nearby – Madina and Shadab. A toss of the coin decided in Shadab’s favor and we made our way upstairs and partook of some delectable Biriyani, Gobi Masala and the quintessential Hyderabadi sweet – Kubani Ka Meetha! (A delicacy made from dry Apricots, sugar and topped with cream).Thus having satiated both our gastronomic and tourist zeal, we made our back home with a sweet palate and sweeter memories. The only grouse – not having a camera to capture those moments!